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Galerie KELIM Würzburg

01 April - 31 May 2008

Niche and Tree of Life

Symbols in Oriental Kilims and Carpets

The NICHE (cave) has been deeply rooted in the human mind for thousands of years. Illustrations of caves and mountains relating to shamanistic deities are found in murals and textiles dating back to the Neolithic. Actually, in the 20th century, the apparition of Holy Mary at Lourdes / France took place in a grotto i.e. cave. Thus, the niche symbol has also become widespread in Oriental textiles where it has always been interpreted in many different ways. Sometimes the niche even took the form of a human being as can be seen in the kilim from Erzurum (East Anatolia, about 1850). We are more familiar, however, with those mosque-resembling niches in prayer rugs.
A wide variety of illustrations of the niche symbol is shown in this exhibition. Quite frequently, another significant symbol can be identified in the centre or on the top of the niche. It is the tree of life.

From the 5th millennium BC onwards, farming became more and more important. Accordingly, the TREE OF LIVE, representing the plant, fertility, growth and life, became a very meaningful and intense image (e.g. Wish Tree, Holy Oak ). Such primal symbols although often transformed beyond recognition – have been common in many cultures since the late Stone Age. They often serve to demonstrate and back up specific conceptions: the maypole, family tree, seven-armed candlestick etc.
In Anatolian woven and knotted textiles, the tree of life was often placed inside the niche or on its top, thus coordinating the two symbols and creating an even more powerful effect.

More than 35 exhibits from three centuries are waiting to be viewed, interpreted and compared.

Welcome to the gallery!
Werner Braendl, Galerie KELIM Würzburg

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